Located in Saint-Claude, in the French Jura, Chacom is one of the oldest pipe factories still producing today. Strictly speaking, Chacom is only ONE brand produced by the Chapuis Comoy company.
It all began in 1825 when the Comoy family started making wooden pipe mouthpieces in a village not far from Saint-Claude. The influential forefather of the company, Henri Comoy was born in 1850. When he was a prisoner of war because of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, he met his cousins from the Chapuis family, who were also active in the pipe business. From then on they did things together. Nine years later, Henri and a handful of employees moved to London to found England's first briar pipe factory. The Comoy's brand was thus created by H. Comoy & Co. Ltd. brought to life. After the First World War, business flourished and the British branch was no longer dependent on additional deliveries from France. However, other fields of activity were sought in order to keep production in Saint-Claude upright. This was the birth of the Chacom brand, which was initially only sold in France, Switzerland and Belgium. In the 1930s, the factory employed over 450 people, making it one of the largest pipe factories in the world. After the Second World War, the brand developed into a bestseller in France and Belgium, and sales were established in Scandinavia, Germany and the USA.
On the way to modernity
The link between the parent company in France and Capuis-Comoy in Great Britain continued until 1970. Then Yves Grenard, a former employee, acquired the Saint-Claude factory. He continued to develop the brand and expanded into Japan, China and the former Eastern Block. In the 1990s, the company bought the brand names, production technology and raw materials from the Jeantet, Ropp, Vuilliard and Jean Lacroix brands and consolidated them in a distribution company called S.A. Cuty Fort together.
Today the company is run by Yves' son Antoine Grenard. An engineer by trade, he also has a great talent for graphic design and a wealth of international experience, gained in Ireland. Chacom now only employs 25 people in production, which is still relatively high compared to other manufacturers. More than 60,000 pipes leave the factory every year. Antoine looks at the job cuts in the pipe industry in Saint-Claude with nostalgia, but also with an analytical eye. In his opinion, the best pipes still come from Saint-Claude. But there was a failure to pick up on trends and observe the competition in other European countries. The growth of the freehand area and the success of Italian and Danish producers were simply overslept. For a long time only traditional pipes were made in Saint-Claude, while customer tastes changed considerably.
Antoine has made it his mission to significantly revise the design of the pipes and increase the quality without neglecting the roots and core business. So Chacom is still in demand today as a supplier for pre-turned bowls, mouthpieces and the execution of complete production processes. Several tens of thousands of pre-turned bowls from old brands that have been taken over are still stored in the factory. Every now and then a series with these bowls comes on the market and enjoys great popularity. One is aware of the capital that is still dormant here, because these bowls are mostly made of old Algerian briar. This wood still has the reputation of the very best smoking quality. Unfortunately, this source is not inexhaustible, because briar suitable for pipe production no longer grows in Algeria. It was harvested intensively until the 1960s, when it finally disappeared.
Chacom mainly manufactures the mouthpieces of the pipes itself. Acrylic, ebonite and Cumberland are used here, which are processed by hand in order to shape the bite in a particularly pipe-smoker-friendly manner.
The Chacom brand offers both classic pipes and particularly unusual series that are provided with metal applications or acrylic decorations. In addition, there are always cooperations with well-known pipe makers such as Tom Eltang. In the spring of 2016, the old production facilities were abandoned and the newly built glass factory with showroom and smokers' lounge in Saint-Claude was occupied. The company invites visitors to the region to get an impression of the formative pipe industry in the French Jura. The building has large dimensions in order to be able to react to fluctuating and, above all, increasing demand in the future.
We can recommend Chacom pipes to those pipe smokers who appreciate modern tradition and pay attention to the smoking quality of a pipe. Most of the wood is very old and the grain is beautiful. The fact that the pipes are also traded in an affordable price range makes the choice for a Chacom particularly easy.